NBA

Booker's Suns sizzle in OT win over NBA-leading Jazz, Durant sparkles on return

By Sports Desk April 08, 2021

Devin Booker and Chris Paul helped the Phoenix Suns take down Donovan Mitchell and the NBA-leading Utah Jazz 117-113 after overtime.

Booker posted 35 points, while Paul finished with 29 points as the high-flying Suns moved to within a game of the best record in the league on Wednesday.

DeAndre Ayton finished with 18 points and 12 assists for the Suns (36-14), who won their seventh successive game after scoring the first five points in overtime and never trailed again.

Mitchell – who nailed a three-pointer with 10.4 seconds remaining to force OT – had a game-high 41 points, eight rebounds and three assists for the Jazz (38-13) in a thrilling encounter.

Jazz team-mate Rudy Gobert put up 16 points on seven-for-seven shooting and 18 rebounds in the losing effort on the road.

Kevin Durant made his long-awaited return in the Brooklyn Nets' 139-111 victory against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Durant had been sidelined since February 13 due to a hamstring strain, but the former NBA MVP returned as the star-studded Nets won midweek.

After a 23-game absence, Durant – initially named in the starting five – came off the bench and posted 17 points on five-for-five shooting in 19 minutes, making both of his three-point attempts.

Durant, who received an ovation from the home crowd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, also collected seven rebounds and tallied five assists against the Pelicans midweek.

 

Westbrook fuels Wizards with triple

A Russell Westbrook triple-double of 23 points, 15 assists and 14 rebounds led the Washington Wizards past the Orlando Magic 131-116. It was Westbrook's 20th triple-double of the season as the Wizards snapped a four-game losing streak. Bradley Beal returned from a five-game absence and posted 26 points, while the Wizards made a season-best 19 three-pointers.

MVP candidate Nikola Jokic (25 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) fell just short of his 13th triple-double of the season after the Denver Nuggets topped the San Antonio Spurs 106-96.

Grayson Allen's season-high 30 points helped the streaking Memphis Grizzlies beat the Atlanta Hawks 131-113. Jonas Valanciunas (19 points and 11 rebounds) set a franchise record with his 19th straight game with 10-plus rebounds.

 

Richardson struggles

It was a rough outing for Josh Richardson in the Dallas Mavericks' 102-93 loss to the lowly Houston Rockets. In 29 minutes, he was 0-for-nine shooting for one point. Richardson missed all six of his three-point attempts.

 

Grizzlies roar

The Grizzlies are hard to beat at the moment thanks to their collective effort. All five starters finished in double-digit points – Ja Morant tallying 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, including this combination with Kyle Anderson (16 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals).

 

Wednesday's results

Indiana Pacers 141-137 Minnesota Timberwolves
Washington Wizards 131-116 Orlando Magic
Boston Celtics 101-99 New York Knicks
Brooklyn Nets 139-111 New Orleans Pelicans
Memphis Grizzlies 131-113 Atlanta Hawks
Houston Rockets 102-93 Dallas Mavericks
Charlotte Hornets 113-102 Oklahoma City Thunder
Denver Nuggets 106-96 San Antonio Spurs
Phoenix Suns 117-113 Utah Jazz (OT)

 

Suns at Clippers

The Suns (36-14) will put their winning streak on the line when they visit Western Conference rivals the Los Angeles Clippers (34-18) on Thursday. The Clippers are third in the west, behind leaders the Jazz and second-placed Suns.

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  • From Rule 5 pick to MLB sensation: Rapid rise of history-making Tigers rookie Akil Baddoo From Rule 5 pick to MLB sensation: Rapid rise of history-making Tigers rookie Akil Baddoo

    Akil Baddoo is the name on everyone's lips.

    Baddoo has shattered records from his very first pitch in MLB this month amid an incredible rise from unheralded Rule 5 pick to the biggest sensation in baseball.

    The 22-year-old Detroit Tigers outfielder is already the first player in modern MLB history (dating back to 1901) to hit a grand slam, another home run and a walk-off hit in his first three career games.

    But Baddoo's story is one of perseverance. Let's rewind back to May 2019. He was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.

    If sitting out the 2019 campaign was not bad enough, he missed last season when the minor leagues were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    During the winter's Rule five draft in December, Baddoo was taken by the Tigers, having initially been drafted out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 2016.

    The Rule 5 draft aims at preventing franchises from stockpiling too many young players on their minor league affiliate teams when other clubs would be prepared to play them in the major leagues. If chosen, a player must be kept on the selecting team's major league active roster for the entire season.

    "If you think about it, he's gone through so much," Baddoo's mother Akilah said. "And then this opportunity came, and it was like, 'This can't be a joke. There's a plan for you. You got to know that'."

    In the least likely of places, the Tigers appear to have landed a gem, and Baddoo is making the most of his opportunity, immediately becoming a cult hero in Detroit.

    Baddoo had 233 career minor leagues games to his name, but none above Class A as he earned a place on the Opening Day roster after hitting .325 in Spring Training with five home runs. However, the Maryland native looked like a man for the big stage.

    In his opening at-bat on April 4, Baddoo homered in a memorable maiden outing for the Tigers, driving to left field in the bottom of the third inning against the Cleveland Indians.

    "I'm just living in the moment," Baddoo said post-game after becoming the ninth player in Tigers franchise history to hit a home run in his first major league at-bat and only the second to do so on the first pitch, following George Vico in 1948. "I got a good pitch to hit, and I was able to hit it in front of my family and everyone."

    If that was not enough, Baddoo continued the fairy-tale week by hitting his first career grand slam against the Twins the following day. He became the first Tiger to homer in each of his first two MLB games and the first player in major league history to homer out of the ninth spot of the batting order in his first two career games. Baddoo was also the first player in franchise history to hit a slam within his opening two games.

    Baddoo has continually showed maturity beyond his years as the rookie adds to his growing legend. Taking over Motor City, he then delivered a walk-off shot to sink his old team the Twins 24 hours later.

    His game-winning hit saw him become the first Detroit player with a walk-off shot within his first three MLB games since 1998.

    Baddoo is yet to drop off, his history-making season continuing with a homer against the Houston Astros on Tuesday. Through eight games, he took his tally to four home runs, a double and a triple. According to Stats Perform, his slugging percentage at the time – 1.043 – was the highest in American League (AL) history after eight games.

    After his RBI double against the Astros on Wednesday, Baddoo has now driven in at least one run in seven of his first nine career games, the second Tiger in franchise history to do so, following Dale Alexander in 1929.

    Since 1920, only George Shuba (eight) managed more RBIs in his first nine career games across MLB, according to Stats Perform.

    As it stands, Baddoo's slugging percentage stands at .963 (which ranks eighth all-time through first nine career games since 1901) with 11 RBI. If you combine his RBI and SLG percentage, he is one of four players to have 11-plus RBI and a 900-plus SLG over his first nine career games, after Trevor Story (13/.974 – 38/39 in 2016), Taylor Teagarden (12/1.000 – 29/29 in 2008) and Dave Kingman (11/1.105 – 21/19 in 1971).

    Baddoo was rated as Detroit's fifth outfielder before the start of the season, so how does he compare to his team-mates?

    Counting only plate appearances while playing outfielder, Baddoo's .370 average, .379 on-base percentage, .963 SLG, 1.342 OPS, four homers and 11 RBI are more than the team's other outfielders combined –.190 AVG, .277 OBP, .330 SLG, .607 OPS, three home runs and nine RBI.

    As for the team who left their prospect unprotected, Minnesota's outfielders have tallied a .263 AVG, .331 OBS and .474 SLG so far this season – numbers surpassed by Baddoo.

    Baddoo is flying the flag for Rule 5 picks – Roberto Clemente is the only player out of that unheralded draft to earn Hall of Fame honours.

    Following an 18-season career, Clemente – who died in a plane crash at the age of 38 in 1972 – was a 15-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion, 1966 National League (NL) MVP, World Series MVP and 12-time Gold Glove winner.

    Is Baddoo destined for a Hall of Fame career?

    At the same stage of their careers, Baddoo trumps Clemente in all categories: AVG (.370 to .316), OBP (.379 to .325), SLG (.963 to .500), OPS (1.342 to .825), home runs (four to one), RBI (11 to six) and runs (five to three).

    "Obviously he has the talent to do a lot of different things, I knew he'd give me everything he's got," Tigers manager AJ Hinch has said previously. "That was evident from the beginning."

  • Doncic on buzzer-beating three-pointer: Those are the best feelings ever Doncic on buzzer-beating three-pointer: Those are the best feelings ever

    Luka Doncic sunk a buzzer-beating three-pointer for the Dallas Mavericks against the Memphis Grizzlies and declared: "Those are the best feelings ever."

    The Slovenian took centre stage in Memphis as he posted 29 points, sealing a 114-113 victory with just 1.8 seconds left on the clock to earn the nickname 'Houdini' from his coach Rick Carlisle.

    Grayson Allen had only just missed two free throws for the Grizzlies, making the triumph even sweeter for the Mavs.

    "I was really surprised when it went in," said Doncic, whose exploits earned praise on Twitter from LeBron James. "Those are the best feelings ever.

    "Sometimes you're going to make it, but sometimes you're going to miss it, too.

    "You've got to take that, too. I think that's the most important part. If my team trusts me in that moment, I'll keep working on it."

    Coach Carlisle compared the Mavs' talisman to the legendary Harry Houdini, conceding his team had pulled off a miraculous escape.

    "In those situations, you pull off a win in a game like that once in a blue moon," he said.

    "It just doesn't happen very often. Luka made one of the signature, special shots that you're going to see for a long time.

    "This is one of those joyous nights where we escaped. We had Houdini. He got us out of here alive.

    "He's just a very, very special and unique guy when it comes to these kinds of things. He sees angles and possibilities and has a belief system that very few of us can fathom. Pretty amazing stuff."

    The Mavs are now 30-24, sitting seventh in the Western Conference.

  • Red Sox make MLB history, White Sox's Rodon tosses second no-hitter of 2021 season Red Sox make MLB history, White Sox's Rodon tosses second no-hitter of 2021 season

    The red-hot Boston Red Sox made history in MLB after extending their winning streak to nine games on Wednesday.

    In a midweek doubleheader, the Red Sox swept the Minnesota Twins 3-2 and 7-1 as they became the first team in history to start a season with a three-game losing streak and then immediately win nine in succession.

    After tallying two hits in game one and making a diving catch to thwart the Twins, Boston outfielder Alex Verdugo fuelled the Red Sox with three hits – including a solo homer in the seventh inning – in the second encounter.

    The Red Sox (9-3) are the only team in the American League (AL) East to own a winning record this season.

    "We did a good job," said manager Alex Cora, who returned to Boston this season after leaving the Red Sox amid the sign-stealing scandal, having guided the franchise to World Series glory in 2018. "Overall, a great day for the Red Sox. That’s a good baseball team and to win both games, win the series, it makes it special.

    "We know we have a good baseball team and we have to keep working on it, and we have to keep getting better. But days like today, they’re very gratifying."

     

    Rodon has game to remember

    Carlos Rodon threw a no-hitter for the Chicago White Sox, just missing out on a rare perfect game in an 8-0 rout of the Cleveland Indians. Rodon retired the first 25 batters he faced, leaving him two outs away from what would have been the 24th perfect game in MLB history. But Rodon lost out on joining that exclusive group when a two-strike pitch hit Roberto Perez in the foot. Rodon, though, still managed to secure the 20th no-hitter in White Sox history and the second in MLB this season. According to Stats Perform, Rodon (two wins and two hits allowed) is the first pitcher in AL history to win his first two starts of a season while allowing no more than two hits.

    Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers became the first pitcher since 1906 to have 30 strikeouts and 0 walks in his first three starts of a season. He struck out 10 in six dominant innings as the Brewers shut out the Chicago Cubs 7-0.

    The Toronto Blue Jays edged the New York Yankees 5-4 thanks to Bo Bichette and his walk-off homer. Bichette finished with two home runs as the Blue Jays clinched their series with the Yankees. The 23-year-old tied Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio for the most multi-extra-base hit games (14) in his first 87 MLB appearances. Bichette's single in the opening inning also extended his hitting streak to 11 games, matching a career high.

     

    Cubs crumble in toothless display

    After being blanked by the Brewers, the Cubs are now hitting .163 for the season. Per Stats Perform, it is the second-lowest average by any team through 12 games in the modern era, behind only the 2003 Tigers (.159)

     

    Mercedes' monster moon shot

    White Sox rookie designated hitter Yermin Mercedes delivered a 431-foot bomb against Cleveland. He launched a three-run homer off Zach Plesac during a six-run opening inning.

     

    Wednesday's results

    Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 New York Yankees
    Washington Nationals 6-0 St Louis Cardinals
    Milwaukee Brewers 7-0 Chicago Cubs
    Kansas City Royals 6-1 Los Angeles Angels
    Boston Red Sox 3-2 Minnesota Twins
    Boston Red Sox 7-1 Minnesota Twins
    San Francisco Giants 3-0 Cincinnati Reds
    Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 San Diego Padres
    Detroit Tigers 6-4 Houston Astros
    New York Mets 5-1 Philadelphia Phillies
    Texas Rangers 5-1 Tampa Bay Rays
    Miami Marlins 6-5 Atlanta Braves
    Chicago White Sox 8-0 Cleveland Indians
    Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Colorado Rockies
    Seattle Mariners-Baltimore Orioles (postponed)

     

    Blue Jays at Royals

    The Blue Jays (6-6) will hit the road on Thursday for the opening game of their series against AL Central leaders the Royals (6-4).

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